Friday, November 29, 2013


The student government meeting wasn't a success in the beginning. The other D had estimated 20 attendees, whereas we hardly broke 10. And that was even with this D (me) as a special attendee to encourage attendance. (We obviously overestimated my star appeal.) We even had the meeting at a restaurant to increase the comfort and decrease the formality. Then Wing, a student, started pouring me baijiu (Chinese wine), and then after a sequence that I mostly remember I vomited into the dish collection tray outside our room. I wasn't that ashamed from such a thing: It is the third time in my life that alcohol has gotten the better of me, but then all of those times were since I came to China. The important thing for me was to be in the classroom the next day at top form to show that such an event was not in the least detrimental to my work performance. (A teacher called in sick so I had to handle 6 classes that day, as well as train our new teacher – I had my work cut out for me.)
I often consider the role alcohol has in my life. I have a compulsive personality and the addition of alcohol has had on me is something worth my contemplation. Having read a lot of kungfu novels of late, I get the feeling of the ceremonial element that alcohol has fulfilled in the past. I've never really thought the "social lubricant" aspect of alcohol which dominates these days has much to be appreciated – it seems a step down from what alcohol could be. It cannot be denied that it is a powerful substance worthy of more respect than being used merely as a stimulant to be what you're not. So what do I want from alcohol? And since I use the more highly geared of spirits, how do I want to show my respect with their powers?
I remember conversations with a bipolar Rastafarian pot smoker, who after a psychotic episode that put him in hospital would launch into the defence of hallucinogenic mushrooms on the account of them getting one more in touch with reality at the drop of a hat. From these rather pitiful discussions, what I picked up was that, regardless of substance, the crucial difference was between a textured world layered with awareness and a world textured through an increasingly incapacitated brain. I guess I want to have the feeling of a different perception; to relax and be at ease with things that come to mind, not just the things that bully me; and to experience something sensory with people I want to be close with (food does this too). Most of my wine is drunk in the hours before I sleep at home after work and not in the company of anyone other than my wife.
In other news, I'm reading my first Haruki Murakami book, Kafka on the Shore. Coincidentally, it is the second book in a row that's title is a piece of music in the novel's fictional space. (The Smiling Proud Wanderer also had a flute and harp composition by the same title.) I've only read half of Kafka but am enjoying the world that Murakami has created and appreciate some of the art in how he writes. It is especially well enjoyed with a few shots of baijiu.